Twenty-five years after unforgettable gymnasts such as Alexei Nemov or Nikolay Kruykov won the gold medal at the Atlanta’96 Games, the Russian men’s team once again reached the Olympic summit with their victory in Tokyo, in an exciting contest that was resolved in the last exercise of the last apparatus.
Since 1996, the five Olympic titles had been shared by Japan and China, who today completed the podium in that order. The champions added 262,500 points, by 262,397 from Japan and 261,894 from the Chinese team.
The Russians have already won the last world championship, in 2019, with the same four men who won the Olympic gold today – Nikita Nagornyy, Artur Dalaloyan, David Belyavskiy and Denis Abliazion – so it can be spoken of a change of cycle.
Since the Unified Team heir to the USSR imposed itself on both men and women in Barcelona’92, they had only won in Atlanta and they have not yet returned to the top.
Two rotations cost Russia to take the lead, but when it seemed to be sure it ran into difficulties in the bar exercise and reached the sixth rotation with only 0.640 points of margin over China and 1.271 over Japan. Despite themselves, the Russians kept up the intrigue until the end and the three participants in the last floor exercise fell off the mat. Still, they won the gold.
A successful cast of roles allowed Russia to get the most out of its men. Artur Dalaloyan and world champion Nikita Nagornyy did all six exercises, but Belyavskiy was the best on pommel horse and Abliazin on rings. The gold was for real for the team.